Friday, July 13, 2012

Review: Junie B. Jones Is a Party Animal

Junie B. Jones Is a Party Animal by Barbara Park
Illustrated by Denise Brunkus

In the tenth book in the Junie B. Jones series, Junie B. and her friend Gare are going to a sleepover at their friend Lucille's grandmother's house. The girls are so excited because Lucille's grandmother is rich! They soon find out that being rich doesn't have all the perks they thought. Everything was "only for show" and they couldn't even play with the stuffed animals or sit on the silk bedspread. Junie B. realizes that she likes being who she is more than being at Lucille's grandmother's house.

I chose this book for one of my realistic fiction books because I remember my sister reading every single one of these books as a child. I don't think I ever read them, but I know she loved all of them. So I was very excited to find one at the store and have a reason to read it. I thought it would be a cute story from a kindergartener's perspective. However, I was shocked at how bad the language was in the book. Junie B. is the narrator in this story and the writing reflects how she speaks and writes. Many, many words are misspelled and the wrong grammar is used over and over. I'm really concerned why so many parents let their children read these books. I understand that Junie B. is a character that children can relate too, but she doesn't have many redeeming qualities.

10 books from the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park
I did some research on the series after that. There are 29 books in the series and according to the back flap of the book, these books are consistently on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. The series is also listed as #71 on the American Library Association's list of the Top 100 Banned or Challenged Books from 2000-2009 due to her not being a good role model with her mouthiness and her bad spelling and grammar. When I looked over this list, I noticed many books that I have read though.

I don't think this book needs to be banned, but I do think parents should know what their children are reading when they're young. In this New York Times article, Is Junie B. Jones Talking Trash?, the author, Anna Jane Grossman, discusses the varying opinions of parents who believe Junie B. is a bad role model for children to read about when they are just learning to read and write and those who believe as long as children are reading and writing, they are learning and grammar and spelling can be fixed later. Right now I haven't taken any classes on teaching children how to read, nor do I have children to teach how to read, so I don't really know what to think about what is the best way to teach reading skills. Hopefully by the end of my program I will have a better idea of how I want to go about teaching reading to young children.

Junie B. is a very relatable character and many children could identify with her but I think the writing and language could be improved to make reading these books better. The books do many reading fun for children because Junie B. gets into funny predicaments, but I think the author could use correct spelling and grammar and still have the story be funny for young readers. I don't think there is anything wrong with the content of the books, just the language and how it is written.

Random House, Inc. also has a Junie B. Jones website with games and activities. There is information about the author and illustrator as well as resources for teachers to use these books in their classroom.


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  3. I love the books and I have read them all